Affimed and Genentech Partner to Develop Immunotherapies Against Cancer Based on Natural Killer Cells

Affimed and Genentech Partner to Develop Immunotherapies Against Cancer Based on Natural Killer Cells

A recent collaboration between Affimed and Genentech, a member of the Roche group, aims to develop immunotherapies — called engager-based immunotherapies — that aim to establish a bridge between a patient’s own immune cells and cancer cells.

Affimed will utilize its proprietary Redirected Optimized Cell Killing (ROCK) platform to identify and progress innate immune cell engager-based immunotherapies of interest to Genentech, according to a press release.

The ROCK platform is used to generate highly customizable natural killer (NK) cell and T cell-engaging antibodies, which help to boost an immunotherapy’s effectiveness. The antibodies generated from this platform have the potential to stimulate and direct the immune system to target tumor cells.

They do this by binding to proteins on both immune cells and cancer cells, bringing them closer together, which improves immune responses.

Genentech is interested in activating NK cells, which are an integral component of the human immune system and play a major role in protecting against cancer.

The partnership includes candidate antibodies that are developed from the ROCK platform and numerous undisclosed solid tumor and blood cancer targets.

Affimed and Genentech will work together to discover and conduct early and late-stage research. Genentech will be responsible for the clinical development and commercialization worldwide of therapies that result from the partnership.

“We are incredibly excited to work with Genentech, a leader in oncology with a long history of excellence in the discovery and development of medicines to treat cancer,” said Adi Hoess, Affimed’s CEO, in a press release. “This strategic partnership marks an important step on our path to leverage the full potential of innate immune cells in oncology.”

According to the terms of the deal, Affimed will receive an initial payment of $96 million and other funding in the short-term.

The company will also be eligible to receive up to an extra $5 billion over time. This will include payments linked to specific development, regulatory and commercial milestones, as well as royalties on sales.

“This collaboration is based on Affimed’s innate immune cell drug discovery and development expertise,” said James Sabry, MD, PhD, global head of partnering at Roche. “Our partnership with Affimed provides an opportunity to enhance our existing efforts to understand how the immune system can be activated to help people living with cancer.”

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